Secwepemc Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Willie Sellars (left) and Tsilhqot’in National Government Chair Chief Joe Alphonse are both speaking at UNDRIP 2020 in Vancouver on Tuesday, Jan. 14. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photos - Williams Lake Tribune)

Secwepemc Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Willie Sellars (left) and Tsilhqot’in National Government Chair Chief Joe Alphonse are both speaking at UNDRIP 2020 in Vancouver on Tuesday, Jan. 14. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photos - Williams Lake Tribune)

Cariboo-Chilcotin area chiefs Alphonse and Sellars to address UNDRIP 2020

The two will have 10 minutes each to speak at the sold-out one-day event in Vancouver on Tuesday, Jan. 14

Two Cariboo-Chilcotin chiefs participated in a historic conversation on rights and respect for Indigenous peoples taking place in Vancouver on Tuesday, Jan. 14.

Tl’etinqox Chief Joe Alphonse, tribal chair of the Tsilhqot’in National Government, and Secwepemc, Williams Lake Indian Band Chief Willie Sellars were invited to speak at Finding the Path to Shared Prosperity UNDRIP 2020 which focused on legislation in B.C. to incorporate the 46 United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP) principles into provincial law and public policy.

The sold-out event had 550-plus people attend.

Read more: B.C. to be first to implement UN Indigenous rights declaration

Alphonse said Canada was one of the last countries to sign on to UNDRIP and believes that it wasn’t until the Tsilhqot’in won their Supreme Court of Canada rights and titles case in 2014 that the B.C. government began to recognize UNDRIP in a meaningful way.

“We have a big influence on that here in B.C. and Canada,” Alphonse told the Tribune. “There is still a lot of work that has to happen and it’s not going to happen overnight. All the legislation and laws have to align now and that is where the real work begins.”

Indigenous people have been ignored for too long in Canada, he added.

“We are not against development but some of our people are living in third world conditions. This workshop will focus on how to approach First Nations in a respectful way. Come in early, come to our doors and work with us. Gone are the days of industry pushing its way through.”

For every First Nations community in Canada the needs are great around health, water, housing and dentistry as examples, Alphonse said, noting government funding to First Nations communities isn’t close to being adequate.

After winning the rights and title case Alphonse said he never imagined it would go as far as it has to inspire change.

“We will continue to make sure in our territories that the principles of UNDRIP are followed.”

Sellars, who was elected as chief in 2018, said the fact B.C. is working toward legislating the UNDRIP principles shows how far the province is ahead of other provinces in moving toward reconciliation.

Read more: OUTLOOK 2020: New B.C. rules for environment, Indigenous consultation

“Historically Williams Lake does not have good First Nations and non-First Nations relationships and we have all been trying to bridge that gap,” Sellars told the Tribune. “UNDRIP 2020 sounds sexy, but it’s really an education piece that is going to give people a nudge and help us move in that right direction.”

In the past Sellars has been asked by politicians when reconciliation with First Nations will be achieved and said that he has replied that even with the implementation of UNDRIP it is still generations away.

“It will help for sure, but probably won’t happen in my generation. I don’t think so anyway.”

Responding once to a non-First Nations politician who said, ‘We paid you,’ Sellars answered it is not going to be achieved through a cheque.

“Reconciliation is about education and UNDRIP is one of those tools that is going to help get us there.”

The Williams Lake Indian Band, the City of Williams Lake and the Cariboo Regional District have been meeting to form positive relationships that have grown ten-fold in the last five years, Sellars added.

“It’s definitely exciting times,” he added. “I didn’t realize how big of a conference it was when I was first asked to speak. They had 550 tickets and they sold out and people are clambering to get into it.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Emergency Health Services has deployed the Major Incident Response Team (MIRRT) as COVID-19 positive cases rise in the Williams Lake region. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.’s rapid response paramedics deployed to Williams Lake as COVID-19 cases climb

BC Emergency Health Services has sent a Major Incident Rapid Response Team to the lakecity

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in South Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Jason Noble and his longtime partner Marilyn Martin (Photo submitted)
ROTARY MONTH: Camaraderie, helping others fuels Rotary Club of Williams Lake Daybreak

For the past year-and-a-half Martin has served as the club’s secretary; Noble as president

Rotary Club of Williams Lake members, including president Mike Austin (second from left), cook up breakfasts during a Stampede breakfast this past summer. (Photo submitted)
ROTARY MONTH: Rotary Club of Williams Lake looking to get back to business

While COVID-19 made most of 2020 and the start of the new… Continue reading

Tribune columnist Jim Hilton captured this photo of the forest floor during a hike in the Helmken Falls area at Wells Gray Provinicial Park. (Jim Hilton photo)
FOREST INK: Forests and its connection to human health, part one

Urbanization and modern lifestyle have diminished possibilities for human contact with nature

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Most Read